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The Journal is the largest U.S. newspaper, with more than 2.2 million in daily circulation as of 2012, 1.5 million of which comes from print. It has long been considered the nation’s top newspaper for financial and business news.
Launched in 1889, the Journal is the flagship publication of the Dow Jones Co., a subsidiary of News Corp. The Journal also publishes Asian and European editions, as well as the tech website All Things Digital.
The Wall Street Journal’s website has been primarily restricted to paying customers since it was launched in 1995.
Currently, some of the site’s features are available to anyone, but access to the entire site is limited to online subscribers who pay about $2 per week. In 2010, the Journal reported 414,000 paid subscribers to its website and other e-editions on its mobile devices, making it possibly the largest paid-subscription news site on the Internet. In 2011, the Journal reported adding 200,000 subscribers on mobile devices, such as Apple’s iPad and Amazon’s Kindle. As of 2013, the Journal had 890,000 digital subscribers, accounting for 37% of its total circulation. The paper joined Apple’s in-app Newsstand subscription service in 2012.
The Journal has opened up more of its content to nonsubscribers in recent years, allowing, for example, readers from Google News to view individual articles for free. At the same time, though, managing editor Robert Thomson and owner Rupert Murdoch have charged Google with leeching off of news organizations’ content, and Murdoch has threatened to remove all of News Corp.’s content from Google. The Journal began pulling back some content from Google’s First Click Free program in late 2011.
Despite its paid-content system, the Journal has made a push into social media, using sites like Digg, Twitter, and Facebook to drive traffic. It was the first news organization to launch a social news app inside Facebook. Additionally, the Journal has been among the first American newspapers to use Foursquare to deliver location-based updates to readers and to use Pinterest to share quotations from its stories. In 2012, it expanded its subscription access to the news aggregation app Pulse. It also announced it would create a new social network, WSJ Profile, in 2013.
The Journal was also one of the few newspapers with an iPad app at the device’s launch. Like the Journal’s site, the app is available on a subscription basis. As of early 2013, the iPad app had 130,000 subscribers, and 32% of the site’s traffic came from mobile devices.
In May 2011, the Journal launched SafeHouse, a WikiLeaks-like system for securely uploading leaked documents. The system met criticism both for vulnerabilities in its security infrastructure and for its terms of service, which suggested that the Journal’s protection of submitters’ anonymity might be conditional.
The Journal began producing live streaming web video in 2009, and produced more than 4 hours a day of video content as of 2012. The format has been particularly popular with advertisers. In September 2011, it launched a video app for iPads and TV set-top boxes, and a website of its various video streams in 2012. In August 2012, it launched WorldStream, which features short videos from reporters and editors taken only via smartphones.
The Journal launched two digital publications, The Accelerators and Startup Journal, to cover entrepreneurship and startups in 2012.
In April 2010, The Journal launched a daily standalone section of local news and sports coverage called Greater New York.
The section, which circulates in the New York metro area, was widely understood to be a challenge to The New York Times, particularly given its play for upscale advertisers. Both papers also produce local editions in San Francisco.
From 1902 to 2007, the Journal and the Dow Jones Co. were owned by Clarence Barron and his descendants, the Bancroft family. In December 2007, News Corp. bought Dow Jones for $5.3 billion. (Murdoch had made an unsolicited bid for Dow Jones earlier that year that was rejected by the Bancroft family.)
News of the acquisition was met with concern based largely on Murdoch’s typically hands-on style, but when the acquisition was announced, the Journal’s publisher at the time, Gordon Crovitz, told readers that Murdoch’s ownership would not affect the newspaper’s editorial or ethical standards.
Several Dow Jones and Journal executives — including Crovitz — resigned when Murdoch bought the paper, and were replaced by News Corp. veterans, including Les Hinton, the Journal’s former publisher, and Robert Thomson, the paper’s editor. Hinton resigned in 2011 over the News Corp. phone-hacking scandal, while in 2012, News Corp. announced that Thomson would lead the new publishing company created in its upcoming split. Thomson was set to be succeeded by another News Corp. veteran, former Times of London U.S. editor Gerard Baker. Marcus Brauchli, the Journal’s managing editor, was forced out early in 2008, moving to the executive editorship of The Washington Post.
Murdoch and Thomson moved the Journal toward a more general-interest focus, similar to that of The New York Times. The shift included more coverage of politics and national news stories, less coverage of business, and an emphasis on shorter, newsier stories, rather than features.
Under Murdoch, the Journal has also been charged with sensationalism and with moving toward a more conservative outlook both in its news and opinion coverage, and with muzzling its reporters’ coverage of the News Corp. phone-hacking scandal. As of 2013, the paper had not won any Pulitzer Prizes for reporting since Murdoch took ownership.
In October 2011, the Guardian reported that the Journal’s European edition had channeled money through a Dutch company to buy copies of its own papers to boost circulation. A Dow Jones executive resigned as the allegations broke, and the Audit Bureau of Circulations investigated the paper.
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